I am a single, child free woman. I am not in the habit of buying toys.
So imagine my shock when, as part of my daily morning routine, I logged into my checking account and found a $112 purchase at the Lego store.
I’ve been a victim of debit card fraud before, but it happened on a massive scale.
Someone cloned the card while I was on vacation, and racked up hundreds of dollars in charges at gas stations and grocery stores, before I found the purchases and had the card cancelled.
I’d never seen just one instance of fraud before.
When I did, I was so surprised that I did a quick check of my recent purchases to make sure I didn’t forget buying a birthday present for a friend’s kid, and to make sure I didn’t buy anything affiliated with Lego.
Then I logged into my account, and sent my bank an email through their online contact form. Within an hour, I received a reply with a phone number of where to call to start a fraud claim.
First I had to answer a few such the date of my last valid transaction and whether I’d ever bought anything from the Lego store before (Answer: No.)
Then I was able to ask that my debit card be cancelled.
The Wachovia customer service representative emailed me an affidavit to sign and fax back, stating the nature of the purchase that it wasn’t mine. They’ll be giving me a $112 credit while the case is being investigated.
That was the easy part. Now I have a lot of work to do.
I have no debit card for five to 10 days, so if I want to pull money out of my account, or deposit a check, I need to go to a teller, and I’ll be charged a fee for that service.
I must change over any account that automatically charges my debit card, like my Netflix subscription, EZ Pass and iTunes accounts.
So even though I’m the victim here, I’m going to pay with my time, my extreme annoyance, and possibly a few bank fees.
I have to figure the crook that used my card wanted to see if I would catch a single fraudulent purchase, and would have continued to occasionally ding my account again until I did.
The moral is to make sure you go online and check your account summary every single day. Or at least every other day.
Debit cards don’t offer the same protections as credit cards, even if they say “Visa” or “MasterCard” on the front.
If your credit card is stolen or cloned, you’re on the hook for $50, period. With debit cards, your liability depends on how quickly you find and report the fraud.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you catch an unauthorized purchase within two days, you’re liable for $50.
If you find it within 60 days, you’re liable for $500.
Longer than 60 days? You’re screwed.